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Using CBD for Anxiety

Published: 26-10-2021

Cannabidiol (CBD) has been gaining a lot of traction and popularity as of late. Several people have claimed that CBD has numerous benefits to the human body, one of which is that CBD can help with feelings of anxiety and restlessness.

These days you can find both local and online stores stocked with various CBD products ready for consumption. But does CBD really chalk up to what other people are claiming? Does it really help with anxiety and sleep? Let’s find out.

What is CBD?

CBD is derived from cannabis plants such as hemp and marijuana. It is one of the many chemicals that make up the plant, but it is completely different from the main psychoactive substance, THC. THC is responsible for producing the feeling of being “high” when a person smokes marijuana.

CBD contains tiny traces or no THC at all, making it natural and safe for anyone to use. It is also what makes CBD legal to consume anywhere in the world. THC is only recently being made legal in certain areas of the world. CBD contains less than 0.3% THC which is nowhere close to creating the intoxicating feeling, and so has been declared legally safe.

More and more research is currently being conducted on the effects of CBD on the body. It has been proven that CBD has the following effects:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties – Known to reduce pain and inflammation by blocking enzymes that trigger inflammation.
  • CBD reduces the chances of seizures
  • Can help alleviate anxiety disorders
  • Can help with falling asleep and maintaining a sleep schedule
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How CBD works

Due to the legal issues in the past, research on CBD has been few and far in between. However, over the last decade, new research and trials have been conducted, and we have come a long way in understanding how CBD works in the body.

We know for certain that CBD affects the body through the main receptors we have. These receptors receive signals from different stimuli, which then trigger various actions around the body. CBD is believed to interact with the receptors – CB1 (central nervous system) and CB2 (peripheral nervous system).

Because we are still researching, we still don’t have a complete understanding of how CBD affects these receptors. But in the brain, it is understood that CBD affects how serotonin is released into the body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, and among other things, it is also called the “happy hormone” as it can stabilize our mood, well-being, and happiness.

Low serotonin levels are found among those suffering from depression, depressive episodes, and anxiety. Therefore, those feelings of anxiety that crop up could be in direct relation to low levels of serotonin. Getting a prescribed dose of CBD to help increase serotonin levels can really help quench those feelings of anxiety.

Can CBD help anxiety?

As mentioned, we still don’t know for sure if CBD can “treat” anxiety. Before the introduction of CBD, people were still using medication to deal with feelings of depression and anxiety. These medications included anti-depressants which also worked by regulating serotonin levels in your body.

Going along with this research and theory, it can be assumed that CBD works in a similar manner to anti-depressants. More research needs to be done on this to confirm, but the current stance is that CBD can increase serotonin levels and so can help alleviate anxiety symptoms.

If you are already taking anti-depressants or other medications, you need to contact your health professional before you use any CBD products. CBD can interact with medications and create new problems, so it would be in your best interest to find out for sure.

What does the research say about CBD and anxiety?

To understand a little bit more about the research that has been done on this topic, let’s dive further into a few of them so you know what was derived from them.

  1. Research done in 2015 showed how CBD interacts with the CB1 receptors, serotonin receptors, and others that regulate fear and anxiety in the brain. The researchers came away from the testes with clinical evidence that CBD effectively treats many anxiety disorders such as Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders (OCD), and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  1. A study done in 2011 showed that CBD helped alleviate feelings of anxiety among people who suffered from a social anxiety disorder.
  1. A study was done in 2019 for PTSD-related symptoms. 11 patients suffering from PTSD were involved in the study. When dosed with CBD, 10 (91%) of them reported that they experienced reduced PTSD symptoms.
  1. Another study was done in 2019 to test the effects of CBD on anxiety and sleep. Out of 72 patients in the study, after dosing with CBD, 57 (79%) of them reported reduced feelings of anxiety that stayed down during the entire duration of the study. 48 (67%) of them reported that their sleep improved during the month, but this wasn’t consistent and fluctuated throughout the study.
  1. A recent study done in 2020 among 397 people in New Zealand showed the effects of CBD against a variety of ailments (pain, mental health, neurological). After three weeks of CBD treatment, almost everyone in the group showed that they faced improvements in their quality of life and had reduced feelings of pain and anxiety.

How to use

There are so many different CBD products available and the way they affect your body will vary among them. The dosage and whether or not it will alleviate anxiety will also be determined by the product and how you consume it.

CBD products come in the form of:

Typically, when CBD is topically applied, it affects you faster than when orally ingested (oils and edibles). Orally ingesting can take anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours to show any effect.

If you need immediate relief, then smoking or vaporizing the CBD is the fastest way to calm yourself and immediately relax.


Even though many studies have been done on it, we are yet to come to a decision on what the recommended dosage for everyone should be. Your body composition and CBD you ingest both play a part in determining the dose and so one specific dosage will not work for everybody.

Regulations on CBD are also quite lax meaning that all CBD products are not monitored and regulated by the FDA. There could be other compounds mixed in with the CBD or the correct values may not be mentioned on the packaging. This makes it much harder to determine a dose yourself without consulting with a doctor first.

Based on a recent study in 2019, it is found that a dose between 300 – 600mg can reduce feelings of anxiety among adults.

Side effects

CBD is widely considered to be safe for consumption as it is a natural product and research has not shown any serious health implications. However, some people can still experience a few common side effects which include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Reduction in appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

As previously mentioned, CBD can interact with medication so you need to be cautious if you are taking any other medicines. Always make sure to consult with your doctor first before consuming any CBD products.

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